#TeamNoKids – How to Cope with being Childless in a “No Kid Shaming” Society
Mood Music: Let’s Have a Baby By: Prince
As a woman over twenty-five the biggest question I hear nearly daily is, “When are you going to have kids?”.
It’s a question that is often rude, embarrassing, and sometimes plain hurtful.
It’s not that I don’t want kids, sometimes I want them more than anything, its just that this time in my life isn’t right.
I’d like to be married and fully established in my purpose before I even consider bring life into the world.
I know that I’m not alone on #TeamNoKids and I know that many of you reading have endured some of the harsh criticism about not having little ones.
I’d like to share a couple of personal stories of the scrutiny I have endured, share why I think people are offended by a person’s childless status, and give hope to those of us who’d like to be parents someday.
Work and No Kids
At several of the jobs I’ve had, when work slows down around any given holiday, the employer usually allows people to go home early. Usually the person who has the most hours or the people who arrived first are the first to be allowed such privilege, but often this is when the drama arises.
The employees with kids generally feel that they are entitled to leave first, regardless of the situation. Many of them will complain to me, the boss, or anyone who will listen that they should be allowed to leave first because they have kids.
The excuses by the parents will often be, I need to: finish buying my kids Christmas gifts, take my kids trick or treating, or start Thanksgiving dinner.
Sometimes the employer will grant the request of these inconsiderate mothers or fathers, regardless of hours worked. When they don’t, however, that’s when all hell breaks loose.
I have been on the receiving end of backlash and insults from coworker with kids who nastily state, “Why does she get to go home, she doesn’t have kids, she doesn’t have anything to do?!”
That’s an assumption that not only hurts, but is also completely wrong. Just because a person doesn’t have kids at home doesn’t make them ‘free’.
Many times I have had last minute gifts to tie up or baking to do too. I have a family too, my family just doesn’t include my own kids.
Another thing I’ve trained myself to never admit to at work is, “I’m tried.”
Many co-workers with kids, will basically jump down my throat if I claim fatigue. Many mom co-workers like to retort something to the tune of :
You don’t know what it feels like to work all day then come home to a family with different request and demands, you can’t be tried.
I tread so lightly when I speak, because I never know what will be the cause for a lecture about not having kids.
It’s uncomfortable, unfair, and on so many occasions I have walked away being led to feel that I am inadequate because my womb has never known life.
Strangers and Their “#TeamNoKids Shaming” Commentary
The following incident happened at work as well, but it’s an excellent example of how even relative strangers have approached me rudely because I don’t have children.
My entire life I have attracted children to me like the Pied Piper. Even when I was about 10 or 11 myself, younger kids and babies would flock to me awe.
I’ve taught children for years and I’ve had several people comment on how amazing it is that children just follow me around.
Everyone who knows me knows how great I’m with children and I’ve often been asked to teach children’s Sunday school classes, begged to babysit, or play the role of mentor.
If I meet a kid, I promise in the next two seconds I’ll be their best friend, there’s actually a child I know who has never called me Kristi, rather “Best Friend”.
I’m naturally affectionate with them and they are naturally drawn to me- it’s a gift from God.
Recently a co-worker noticed how all the children in my class rushed to me when I came into the room. She nastily asked, ”Do, you have kids?” I replied, “No,” terrified of what she would say next. She then retorted:
“I don’t understand why they like you so much, you don’t have kids. You need to go ahead and have some before you are too old to enjoy them.
I had come into my classroom in a wonderful mood and when she said that to me it felt like she ripped my heart from my chest.
I’m already a little sensitive about the fact that I don’t have children of my own, but the hate in which she said this left me crestfallen for literally a week.
She’s not the only person who has insisted that I have children and hurt me deeply about what I apparently lack.
No Kids and Friendship
God knows it’s exciting to find out one of your friend is pregnant! All you want to do is talk about the baby and wait for his or her impending arrival, but when the baby gets here the dynamic of the friendship changes.
I will soon write a blogpost about this phenomenon in and of itself, as it is truly difficult. The saddest thing though about a friend becoming parent is in a lot of ways you can no longer totally relate to each other.
Arguments will transpire and the friend with the kid will either insist that you have a baby or insinuate that you are irresponsible and don’t understand where they are coming from, because you don’t have a child of your own.
A baby will test a friendship like nothing you’ve EVER experienced and can leave you feeling very lonely and inadequate.
The Breakdown- Why the Criticism Occurs and How to Deal With it
Every woman wants children and if you every meet one that says she doesn’t is probably lying. It’s The Curse of Eve and coupled with a desire for a husband, the desire for a child can sometimes be unbearable.
It’s as much a part of our genetic makeup as breasts and as we progress in age childless, the desire becomes white hot. A woman can be depressed for days (especially during ovulation) in fear that she many never become a mom.
When a person who is already a parent splits out words like thoes written above, it’s like a literal slap in the face. After years of facing this poor treatment by people who are parents, I have learned a wonderful little secret.
Incline your ears a little closer so that I might whisper:
Being a parent isn’t the most important thing you will ever do.
This sounds rude, but when you think of Michelangelo, Martin Luther King, or Mother Theresa, the first thought that comes to mind isn’t if they were parents. One usually ponders their contributions to art, peace, and society in general.
As we wait to become mothers (or fathers), we shouldn’t be solely concerned with our future children, but the contributions we can make to the world now.
How can we love people more? Is there a child in our family or community who could use a vote of confidence? What is our relationship with God like? How can we perfect our craft? How can we simply improve ourselves?
These are great questions to ponder while you are childless.
What I have learned in life is that what is meant to be will eventually come into fruition. You don’t have to waste precious time waiting for someday. God has a unique plan for our lives and sometimes that plan might not include becoming a parent in your twenties, maybe not even your thirties.
Come closer again because I have another little secret:
People with children who constantly rag on you about being childless are usually a little envious of you.
Simply put, they miss the freedom. While you or I can wake up whenever on the weekend usually, they are ruled by their children’s needs and wants.
While you can hit a movie, club, or concert with your only concern being what to wear, parents must worry about finding the time and a babysitter.
You are free to pursue your calling with fire, while parents might not ever find the time.
Understand with your heart that while you might be a little envious of everyone’s cute little ones, their parents are looking at you and wishing for former freedom. You see, parenting is not eighteen short years, it’s a lifetime responsibly that only ends at the grave.
The Break Down
All in all, the grass is always greener on the other side. We all want what we don’t have.
I can’t wait until the day that I welcome some deeply dimpled babies ( I don’t know where they might inherent them, any suggestions *wink, wink). However, I am no longer shook by nasty commentary about not having a kids at this time.
My time is either coming or it isn’t, either way, I now understand that the plan in place for my life is prefect and my impact doesn’t just lie dominate in my womb.
What I do right now might be the most important thing I do with my life. The hearts I touch are what matters most.